False teeth, fantales, spearmint leaves . . . we’re so used to the lollies we grew up with in Australia that it’s easy to think that’s what lollies are like, without realising that lollies in other countries can be quite different. They wouldn’t call them lollies of course, but the little kids in Mexico get chilli in their sweets. And I recently sampled some Chinese confectionery and a sour salty plum – one of the most unusual tastes I have ever encountered and obviously one you have to grow up with. At the moment I am experimenting with American candy, which is making its way into the land of Minties and Violet Crumble Bars. Americans have a lot of peanut butter candies and some hot cinnamon ones: Red Hots and Atomic Fireballs. The hot cinnamon is rather nice – completely different from anything we have in Australia, except perhaps for strong peppermint – but it does dreadful things to the tongue if you’re not used to it. Perhaps you have to grow up with cinnamon sweets too. Steve Almond, an American confectionery historian, reckons Americans hate coconut.
Another confectionery historian claims that Australian confectionery is marked by a preference for coconut, along with mint and musk. What do you think? Children from the 30s seemed to have had a passion for licorice. What’s your favourite flavour? Starbursts and clouds seem to be the ‘hot’ lollies for Australian kids at the moment.
I was standing in a queue at the movies today and two women behind me were deciding what confectionery to buy to take into the movie with them. One said, “Jaffas, I think. We can chuck ’em,” and giggled. No one has ‘”chucked” them in the movies for decades – it’s a bit hard with carpet now isn’t it? – but the mythology lingers on.